Finding Eternal Life at the Intersection of Bergson and Proust is a research project that explores the relationship of spirit and matter attempting to answer the question: Does the Proust Effect prove humans have an eternal soul? The Proust Effect is defined as “the vivid reliving of events from the past through sensory stimuli” based on a passage in the novel Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust. Applying quantum mechanics to Proust’s themes of time and memory and philosopher Henri Bergson’s studies of matter and spirit, one can examine how the body and soul connect. Proust’s labyrinth of language offers a look at the effect of words on existence and the power of utterance. This project is comprised of research on the nature of subatomic particles, the negative space in matter, and the way language shapes reality. The research design and methodology follow the standard format for a research paper in literature and is grounded in a reading of Swann’s Way. While this study does not reach a definitive conclusion, it leads to this interpretation: If as quantum mechanics suggests, humans are comprised of particles that interact but never touch, people are essentially composed of negative space; if, as Bergson suggests the soul is interwoven with the body, then the soul resides in this negative space; if, as Proust illustrates, the soul is connected to memory, the Proust Effect is evidence of eternal life. Taking a step back, this study has larger implications beyond Proust. Literature can reveal truths about human nature and allow people to explore important concepts with both a microscope and a telescope. In the same way Proust steps out of time to explore memories and loss, reading Swann’s Way allows readers to look at the body/soul connection and how people navigate both the physical and emotional universe.
Capers, Kelly, "Finding Eternal Life at the Intersection of Bergson and Proust" (2022). Graduate Research Posters. 41.